Monday, February 16, 2015

Man Who Could Be President

It seems only fitting on this President's day to talk about Charley’s political views.
First, and let’s get this over with right now, when Dad was alive he would call Brad and ask whose turn it was to take Charley into the voting booth.
It doesn’t take a political science genius to figure out that Brad and I cancel out each other’s votes. At least, that’s what I want Brad to believe.
The truth is, Brad never knows who I vote for because I don’t tell him. It drives him crazy, but since it’s one of the few things I don’t have to tell, I don’t. Besides, if I tell, it won’t be fun anymore.
Dad's theory was that whoever's turn it was to take Charley into the voting booth got to vote twice. But he would be wrong. Neither one of us tell Charley who to vote for. We may help him if he needs it, but that's it.
Most people would assume Charley knows nothing about politics. After all, he has Down syndrome, right?
Well, let’s see about that.
First, Charley knows exactly who the President is. He always has. When Clinton was in office, he would point at the TV screen and say, “Cweantone.”
I'd say, "You mean Clinton?"
He'd say, "Yeah."
When Bush was in office, Charley would point to the screen and say, “Pwesident Bus!”
When Obama took office he’d point to the screen and say, “Daddy, look! Bama!”
Charley is. Bipartisan. He's always liked the President, who ever he is.
Second, he doesn't care if the President is black, white, yellow, green with pink hair, rich, poor, likes or hates broccoli, stands for gay-pride, or has Howdy Doody ears. The President is the President, and it's Charley's job to cheer him on.
This is and always will be one of Charley's greatest gifts, and a for me, a source of Momma-pride.
One of his favorite movies is The American President. Although, I think it sometimes confuses him. One minute he’s pointing to Michael Douglas and then there’s a commercial with Obama, and then back to Michael again, and he's looking at us like, what the heck?

He doesn’t stay confused for long. Charley has a small black radio and he listens to Rush Limbaugh on the radio every day. Rush is always fussing about President Obama. So much so, that he fusses at Brad and I if we talk during Rush’s program.
“Mom, Dad, no talk. Da Pwesident’s on.”
“That’s not the President, Son, that’s Rush Limbaugh.”
“Uh uh, Bama, dat guy said so.”
“No, Son, he’s fussing about Obama.”
“Uh uh, Dad.”
“Yuh huh, Charley.”
And Rush gets cranked up again, yelling “Obama care” into the microphone, and Charley looks at us and says, “See? Dat Bama, dat guy care,” like, gees, you guys just don’t get it.
I suppose there’s no way we can convince Charley it’s not Obama.
But what about the boy at the Special Olympics?
Brad and I both went to the park one afternoon to watch Charley compete.
Charley wasn’t exactly happy about this. We weren’t sure why, but if I had to guess, I’d say it’s probably because he was afraid we were there to take him home.
But there was one athlete who was thrilled.
No one else had on a suit and tie, but since Brad had a lunch meeting he was dressed in business attire. He stood at the top of the stairs watching Charley on the podium, as he was presented with his medal. Moments later, a wide-eyed athlete climbed the stairs and came face to face with Brad.
Clearly a fan, he looked up at Brad. “Are you the President?” He asked with a big grin. Brad tried to hide it, but I saw the ego boost on his face.
By the time Brad shook the athlete's hand Charley was standing beside them. “No silly,” he said to the boy. “Dat my Dad."
Seriously though, as far as Charley is concerned, Brad could be president. Make no mistake about it though, I'm the speaker of the house.
Presidents come and go. We see them on TV. We listen to them on the "hollow." We celebrate their birthdays. But in our house? There's only one president. One leader. One Dad.
And we all know who the president of that fan club is.

Sherry McCaulley Palmer is the author of Life With Charley: A Memoir of Down Syndrome Adoption, available at

Please follow Charley's Facebook page:  Life With Charley - And Down Syndrome

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Disability and the Special Prom

The following article, "Disability and the Special Prom,"  was posted today by my friend, Stephanie Holland, of "The Road We've Shared." Here's the link:

If you know of someone who has a loved one with Down syndrome, please, won't you take a moment to share?

Thanks Stephanie, I couldn't have said it better. Your brilliance and experience with your son reaches across the internet into so many hearts.

Note: Charley will be attending one of these Special Proms on February 21st.

As a mother of a young man with DS, I watch every day, how he wishes he could be a part of the world where dances are a rite of passage. But for people like Charley, the opportunities to socialize with people like him are sadly, limited. When he attends one of these proms, it's like his world opens up. Somehow the social schism of differentness narrows just enough to put him in an arena where he is able to be just like everyone else just by being himself. At the Special Prom he's not special needs. He's just Charley.

There's freedom in that. Freedom in being who you are.

For all who spend their time and money on providing my son with the time of his life, THANK YOU.

Charley, getting ready to dance his feet off!